Annual Meeting & Party
The Annual Meeting & Party (AMP) was the best AMP yet! We served a record total of 3,200 people—thanks to Josh Perkins, Off-Site Kitchen Manager, and the food team for the terrific job they did on food prep and service throughout the evening! Also thanks to Brendon Smith, Director of Communications, and Jack Kear, Event Coordinator, for their parts in planning and coordinating the logistics, entertainment, and prizes for the event. 

In the business meeting, I reported that this fiscal year (FY2011) was a BIG year for the Co-op. If you were there, you heard me say that with the opening of Willy West, combined sales for the Cooperative grew to $27.6 million, up 36% over FY2010. We added an additional 102 employees to the roster, growing our staff to 273 total. Local product purchases alone have grown 28% in the last year!

In addition to opening West, we distributed patronage refunds to Owners from profits earned in FY2010 for the first time; the distribution (via store credit) was an important lesson for us to show what patronage is, how it works, and how this Owner benefit will work in the future. Last year we also lowered the non-Owner surcharge from 10% to 5%; this does not replace all the benefits of Ownership, but does allow non-Owners slightly easier access to our store.

Board Elections
Also during the business meeting, Lynn Olson, Director of Cooperative Services, made final call for candidates running for the Board of Directors this year. Candidates were introduced and asked to make a short statement.  Board elections begin August 1st and last through August 16th, when ballot results will be reported at the Special Membership Meeting. Please read the candidates’ statements included in this Reader. You will also find a paper ballot to use to cast your vote, or you can vote online, provided we have your current email address.

I would like to add a word of thanks our two parting Board members, Emily McWilliams and Jeff Bessmer, for your years of service to the Cooperative. Thank you.

West side pin pads
We are pleased to announce that a major credit and debit card bug at our Middleton store has been repaired!  Since opening Willy West, this bug has prevented cards with RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chips from processing through our credit card pin pads at the point of sale (POS). This was a particularly difficult technical problem to resolve that involved several parties, including our POS reseller (NCBP), our POS software designer (LOC Software), the hardware manufacturer (Hypercom), our credit card merchant (First Data), three banking institutions, and our Willy Street Co-op IT Department. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we contended with this complicated problem. Please be assured that we understand how inconvenient this must have been for Owners with RFID-enabled credit and debit cards and that we pursued resolution of the issue with extreme diligence.

Lot Construction update
The second phase of Willy East parking lot re-construction is planned to coincide with work being performed on Williamson Street. The scope of our work ties into the Williamson Street reconstruction storm water management work, and will include the installation of three catch basins for storm water run-off; re-grading of the lot; officially adding four small car parking spaces on the boulevard; and increasing the handicapped parking by one stall.

Reminder: During lot construction, we will continue to offer carry-out to your car, free Burley rentals, free (in zip codes 53703 and 53704) you shop/we deliver, many samples throughout the store, and weekly prize drawings. In addition, anyone guessing the actual finish date for this project will win a prize! See postings in Willy East.

Look for updates on the parking lot project and lot status on the Co-op’s website (www.willystreet.coop), Facebook page and Twitter account.

I am looking forward to the year ahead. To name a few things: our first year as a two-store operation, new Board members, sustainability committee work, and end of street reconstruction!

Dates to think about:
Orton Park Festival: August 25th–27th
Middleton Good Neighbor Festival: August 26th-28th
Willy Street Fair: September 17th-18th

Closing early
September 5, Labor Day, is our next scheduled close early date... closing at 7:30pm at East and West.